Researchers collaborate across disciplines at RAND to evaluate terrorist, military, nuclear, cyber, and other threats to U.S. national security — identifying emerging threats, scrutinizing known risks, and evaluating potential strategic and tactical responses. Recent studies have included examinations of al Qaeda, the Afghan insurgency, and Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
No one can predict with any certainty what terrorists might do next. If there is one lesson America learned about counterterrorism on 9/11, it’s that the coming attack may look nothing like those that preceded it.
Russia seems to be taking prudent steps to make the games the safe and secure display of athleticism and international good fellowship they once were. The outcome hinges on a pair of unknowns: the secret counterterrorism strategies Russian authorities have undertaken and the terrorists' capacity for creativity and surprise.
Americans should be able to discuss the terrorist threat and how best to meet it, how much of the country’s precious resources should be devoted to homeland security, and the impact intelligence efforts can have on personal privacy and freedom.
Given Russian capabilities, it would be surprising if a terrorist group was able to mount a successful large-scale, coordinated attack during the Games. For spectators and athletes alike, the more likely threat will be from individuals, acting alone outside of arenas and other official venues.
From the Black September attacks on Israeli athletes in 1972, to the post 9/11 games in Salt Lake City, to the 2012 games in London, security has been a concern at all modern Olympics. Recent terrorist attacks in Russia, though, present particular concern as the world's athletes descend on Sochi.
The effects of security measures ought not to be measured solely in terms of prevention. Different types of countermeasures produce different effects, such as deterrence, making it easier for security to intervene during an attempted attack, and providing visible security that reassures the public.
The counterterror campaign is a marathon run against a slowly declining revolutionary idea, al Qaedism, which will take many more years to stamp out fully. The U.S. should not lose sight of the fact that while 12 years of counterterrorism efforts have helped keep it safe, many more years of vigilance lie ahead.
Recent comments by key U.S. lawmakers have again raised the issue of where the United States is in its campaign against al Qaeda. This has left some to wonder if the terrorism threat is increasing and if Americans are not as safe as they were a year or two ago. Three senior RAND analysts offer their take.
Shootings at airports are nothing new, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. In fact, they have regularly occurred worldwide in recent years. The motives have included terrorism, crime, and mental illness.
To ensure the Department of Homeland Security makes progress in the current constrained budget environment, its new secretary must put in place a strategic perspective to guide priorities for how to address the country's most pressing problems in disaster management, immigration reform, cybersecurity, violent extremism, and nuclear terrorism.
The Shabab terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Kenya and its follow-up attacks in the country are a stark reminder that the Somalia-based group poses a threat to the United States and its interests in East Africa, writes Seth G. Jones.
The recent decision to close 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa because of intelligence indicating terrorist planning for unspecific attacks underscores the need to continue focusing attention and resources on the danger al-Qaida and its affiliates pose to the United States and its allies.
Although the risk of a debilitating cyberattack is real, the perception of that risk is far greater than it actually is, writes Martin Libicki. In fact, a major cyberattack of the kind intelligence officials fear has not taken place in the 21 years since the Internet became accessible to the public.
The escalating war in Syria presents a growing threat to the Middle East and the West more broadly. Led by groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (the Victory Front), an al-Qaeda-affiliated organization, Syria is becoming a training ground for foreign fighters and a microcosm of sectarian conflict.
There is, at present, no known terrorist group in the United States that has the organization and human resources to assemble an operation of the complexity and scale of the Mumbai attack, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
The best way to safeguard U.S. diplomatic missions abroad is to think hard up front about the purpose of the mission and to constantly reassess it in light of changing conditions, writes William Young.
The fact is that the United States needs to gear up for the coming era of cyber threats — and start by ensuring its financial flank is not catastrophically compromised, writes Mark Sparkman.
The lesson here is not that countries should act for the sake of maintaining credibility but that they should act when they believe it serves their interests and might make a difference, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.
The effectiveness of our attacks, particularly by drones, has already decimated the al Qaeda hierarchy, writes Harold Brown. That achievement, together with the negative effect on Muslim publics of drone attacks, suggests that the rate of their usage could be moderated.
Involvement can transform members of the public from helpless bystanders into active participants in their own defense, thereby reducing fear and alarm, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.